Drones are becoming a household concept. More and more industries are looking for the best way to utilize drones safely and effectively to help save time and money for any task. Drones are even becoming something discussed around the home for personal use, especially when dealing with repair and maintenance issues around the house. However, using a drone for business is not that cut and dry. At home they may cause issues, however, businesses must adhere to regulations for their industries as well as insurance issues that could ultimately cause more trouble if ignored. The construction industry sees drones as a huge asset to their business. However, if the proper steps to obtaining and using drones are ignored, the fines and lawsuits could easily put a construction company out of business. Therefore, it is important to know and follow the rules before purchasing a drone for your site.
The Preliminary Work
Before you even purchase a drone, first you must complete some preliminary research and work. For instance, did you know you must receive approval from the FAA to operate a drone? The FAA has guidelines that must be learned and understood when applying for approval for use of a drone (or UAV: Unmanned Aircraft System) on a construction site. In addition to applying for approval from the FAA, you must have a new section of your employee handbook or operations manual that deals with the use of drones, risk management, and safety procedures. This includes proper employee training regarding drones and their proper usage on a job site. In addition to training your employees and receiving an FAA approval, you must prepare to hire drone operators or train current employees on drone operations and have those operating employees pass the required aeronautics test for them to serve as a drone operator.
Finally, the last piece of preliminary work that must be completed before purchasing your first drone is the insurance test. It is important to contact your insurance provider or broker to determine the following items:
- Does your insurance cover drones?
- If not, do you need a policy or rider that will cover drones on your worksite?
- How much will this extra coverage cost, and is it cost effective in the long run?
- Once coverage is purchased, how long will it take to go into effect?
Your insurance broker should be able to sit with you to discuss these and other issues which may pop up as the results of drone usage on a job site. Most importantly, when dealing with insurance, never assume anything. Many policies specifically exclude drone usage and specific policies need to be purchased just for this type of issue.
Once you have set everything in motion and have purchased your first drone, your job has not ended. Each job site must be analyzed properly to ensure you are within the proper guidelines of the FAA in regard to drone usage. For instance, drones are not allowed to fly over people that are not directly involved with your project. Therefore, if you are in a busy commercial district, it may be wise to leave the drone at the office or only do work with the drone during off business hours. This and many other regulations will play a constant issues for each job.
Furthermore, since drones are a relatively new technology, the issues involving drones are constantly changing and being updated. Should you choose to utilize drones for your construction projects, dedicate an individual within your company to constantly check for updates regarding drones in your industry and adjustments you may need to make to accommodate their usage.
Finally, be prepared to always mitigate risks for each job that may occur. Drones are a great opportunity to save money and keep employee injuries down. However, they are new and still being analyzed and understood. Therefore, there is still quite a bit of unknown risk involved. Each job site may offer a different risk as well, therefore, it is important to know your risks in advance and prepare accordingly.
Interested in using drone technology for your construction company? Contact the experts at Skyline Risk Management, Inc., (718) 267-6600 to get proper coverage for all your business needs.